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As we approach the beginning of the Kalen DeBoer era in Tuscaloosa, we preview Alabama football’s opponents in the 2024-2025 regular season.

Last meeting – September 16, 2023:

Alabama-17

South Florida – 3

Looking to rebound from a 34-24 home loss to Texas the previous week, Alabama endured one of the most frustrating Saturdays of the Saban era. Torrential rain fell in Tampa, and Alabama’s offense struggled to get going all afternoon, rotating between Tyler Buchner and Ty Simpson at quarterback. The Tide pulled out a narrow 14-point victory thanks to a strong defense and a solid running attack led by Roydell Williams and Jase McClellan.

MFB

Crimson Tide Photos / UA Athletics

Last season

USF went 7-6 and 4-4 in the American Athletic Conference last season and finished the year with a 45-0 victory over Syracuse in the Boca Raton Bowl.

Alex Golesh is entering his second season as head coach of the USF Bulls. Golesh is a former Ohio State player and is entering his 21st year as coach. Just one season after USF went 1-11, Golesh won seven games and led USSF to its first bowl game since 2018 and first bowl win since 2017. USF returns both its offensive and defensive coordinator from last season.

USF ATTACK:

Last season’s league leaders

Passes: Byrum Brown – 3,292 yards, 26 TD, 11 INT.
Running: Byrum Brown – 809 yards, 11 touchdowns.
Receiving: Sean Atkins – 1,054 yards, 7 TD.

South Florida passed the ball 43.5% of the time and ran the ball 56.5% of the time last season. Byrum Brown accounted for 94.2% of the team’s passing yards as a redshirt freshman last season and will return for USF in 2024. Brown set USF records for passing yards and passing touchdowns and was one of two players to pass for 3,000 yards and run for 800 yards last season.

Brown started for USF last season against Alabama, but neither team had a good quarterback in that game. Brown completed 14/28 with 87 yards passing and one interception. Against Alabama, however, he did some damage on the ground, running for 92 yards. Dual-threat quarterbacks have been a kryptonite in the armor of a Nick Saban defense, but how will Alabama look defensively after the change in Alabama’s coaching staff? Fans will have to find out quickly, with two big games coming up in the first month of the season.

Sean Atkins was the best wide receiver for South Florida last season with 92 catches for 1,054 yards and seven touchdowns. The Bulls also have their second-best receiver back from last season – Naiem Simmons – who had 39 catches for 637 yards and five touchdowns. Atkins is a graduate student while Simmons is in his final year, so the Bulls will rely heavily on their top two targets to help a still-growing quarterback.

USF’s best running back from last season also returns. Nay’Quan Wright ran for 797 yards and eight touchdowns last season. Wright is a graduate student and averages 4.4 yards per run for the Bulls.

USF DEFENSE:

Fortunately for Alabama, Daquan Evans, who recorded three sacks and four tackles for loss in the Tide’s narrow win last season, appears to be ineligible and will not play for USF against Alabama next season.

However, last season’s top tackler returns in graduate linebacker Jhalyn Shuler. Shuler totaled 97 tackles last season and recorded five pass defenses, two sacks and a forced fumble. He was selected to the All-AAC Fourth Team by Phil Steele and was named honorable mention All-AAC by the conference’s coaches.

The best returning defensive back is Jaelen Stokes, who started 11 games for the Bulls last season. He totaled 61 tackles, two sacks, two picks, one pass defense, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery.

In addition, USF is bringing back its second linebacker and top safety in DJ Gordon IV and Logan Berryhill. Gordon had a total of 58 tackles last season, along with three and a half sacks and two pass breakups. Berryhill had a total of 56 tackles, three picks and two pass breakups.

USF will have several experienced defenders leading a defense led by a returning defensive coordinator.

For more Alabama football content from Simon Besnoy, follow him on X/Twitter at @SimonBesnoy and follow daily news at Tide1009.com.

Wyatt Fulton is the DME and Brand Manager for Tide 100.9, primarily covering Alabama Crimson Tide football and basketball. For more Crimson Tide coverage, follow X (formerly known as Twitter) at @FultonW_.

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